The most rewarding part of building Pure Joy Wellness is the amazing people I get to work with. Jessica is an inspiration and I'm truly thankful that she allowed us to share her story with you. I know you'll find her as amazing as I do.
When you met and started working Renata Joy and Pure Joy Wellness on your fitness goals, you were coming out of a very serious and trying time with your health. Tell us about what was happening.
Yes. When I connected with Renata, I was about six months post treatment for breast cancer. After this very trying experience that taxed my body in a way that I never expected. After undergoing surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation treatments, my body was weakened. I wanted to find a way to feel strong again. It felt important to be able to recreate the physical strength that cancer had taken from me, and also use that as one way to access my inner strength. Renata's motivation, understanding but rigorous style was exactly what I was looking for. That was four and a half years ago.
Wow! Once you regained your physical strength, you could have continued working out on your own. What prompted you to continue with Renata as your trainer?
While I do push myself hard, I somehow push myself harder when she's there. I love working with Renata because there is always something different when I work out with her. I love that. To this day, I have never have done the same exercise routine from one week to the next. There’s the consistent challenge of “What’s going to happen today? What is she going to help me accomplish this time?”
When we first started, Renata would lay out an exercise and in my head I would say, “There’s no way. There’s just no way.” But now Renata has me thinking that I can do it. If she thinks I can do it, then I know I can do it. I do the same workouts we’ve done, a few days later. The feeling of accomplishment that comes from doing those workouts is incredible.
Renata Joy has helped me create belief that I can do things that I never used to. I remember when we started out, she had me do planks, which were hard for me. Then one day she had me do walking planks. I was like, “What? Are you kidding me?” I could barely do four. Now when she tells me to do three sets of 10 and I just look at her and say, “Okay, fine, bring it.”
I appreciate understanding what we are doing, and why, and why the "torture" must be the way it is. :)
What sets Renata apart in my mind is a mixture of compassion, attention and tough motivation. I feel like she gets me and she picks up on things too. She will say, “Why are you holding yourself like that? What’s going on?” She's very tuned in.
For example I struggle with balance. It’s not something that comes easy to me, so she finds lots of ways to work balance into our workouts. Many of the exercises are focused on having me use my whole body as opposed to "hey, let’s just work this one muscle." When I don’t do so well and start getting frustrated, Renata is always quick to say, “Don’t judge yourself. That’s a huge waste of time.” And I like that she know what I need in that moment.
Had you worked out with other trainers or taken fitness classes before becoming a Pure Joy Wellness client? What was your experience?
I had been to many exercise classes; and I had seen other trainers at my gym, but none of them motivated me to work with them. Let’s just start with basics. I have definitely seen trainers who didn’t know what they were talking about or who wouldn’t correct someone who was exercising with bad form.
That was something important to me that stood out about working with Pure Joy Wellness. Renata is always like, “Watch that back, look out for your form.” Also, she always explains what an exercise is going to do. “We are going to do this because it works your back, and then we are going to take a break and do this because it works your legs. And then we are going to come back to your back.” I appreciate understanding what we are doing, and why the torture must be the way it is. :)
So it’s really that mixture. Her ability to create these tough workouts, to see holistically what’s going on, and be very honest, forthright, and compassionate. So I feel very challenged and at the same time supported by Renata. I feel like she gets my goals and is going to do what I need to do to get me there.
Have you grown stronger in other ways as your body has grown stronger?
Yes. Well, it’s not like I was this shy, shrinking violet, and have undergone a huge metamorphasis. But since working with Renata and PJW, I do feel more confident in my strength. I feel more powerful in my body. Renata has taken my general optimism about myself and ratcheted it up. She is inspiring and has actually gotten me to see myself as a little more inspiring as well.
That helps me in other areas of my life. I view working out not as a chore but as something that I can do and be proud of and enjoy, because I can look at my body and see it as strong and powerful. That manifests in other ways. I mean, when I had breast cancer, I had a double mastectomy. I had radiation. I had scars that I never had before. When I started working out with Renata I was just focused on my scarred body. While I initiated our training, it was about recovering from cancer, but through the training process, it became about much more than that. I moved from seeing my body as scarred to seeing it as strong. And that of course translated to more than physical. My work with Renata has built up a sort of inner core strength inside as well.
I like that phrase, "inner core strength.” How else do you use that?
I use it throughout my day, at home, at work.
You’re an executive at a huge insurance company, where does the inner core strength factor in?
There is a level of reward that comes when I am sitting down in a meeting as the only woman in the conference room, and knowing the crazy workout I did that morning. It creates internal confidence, knowing you can push yourself and accomplish more than you thought you were capable of.
That comes out at work whether it’s just talking to a colleague or leading a team.
What about at home?
Well, yes, I love that my children know that five mornings a week I am down at the gym working out and they know that I’m almost always in a good mood after I finish working out! And of course they know who Renata is too - she is a part of my daily existence, so sometimes they ask, “Are you going to work out with Renata today? Is that a Renata exercise? Can you show me how to do a Renata exercise?”
It makes me feel good to know that I am a role model in teaching them how important it is to take care of yourself and to keep growing. My teenage daughter recently put together a group of friends and Renata is now training them once a week!
When we first started, I had never done a “real” push up. Originally that was because when I was younger, it was too hard, and then after my mastectomy, my surgeon said I was restricted. A few years post surgery, I was given clearance to try. Renata immediately said, “You are strong enough to do it.” Then she worked me through it, taught me the process to go from modified to real, and I moved from doing one to doing five to doing ten – and now I can do push ups.
I never could before, and now I can.
Jessica, we know you can do anything you put your mind to! There's literally no stopping you. Thanks for sharing your story with all of us.